In contrast to other animals, however, the longest-lived rodent is the naked mole rat
, which is about the size of a mouse.
Dr Joao Pedro Magalhaes, from the Institute of Integrative Biology, said: "The naked mole rat
has fascinated scientists for many years, but it was not until a few years ago we discovered it could live for such a long period of time.
Naked mole rats
are neither moles or rats, but more closely related to porcupines, chinchillas and guinea pigs and have an expected captive lifespan of 30 years.
Cancer is the cause of death in nearly all laboratory mice that die naturally, but cancer has never been observed in a naked mole rat
. Normal cells are limited in the number of times they can divide, but cancer cells often have the enzyme telomerase, which allows them to divide an unlimited number of times.
They then showed that when HMW-HA was removed, the cells became susceptible to tumors, confirming that the chemical did play a role in making naked mole rats
After identifying HMW-HA as the culprit, the researchers examined its role in the cancer resistance of naked mole rats
. Removing HMW-HA from naked mole rat
tissue cultures made the tissue susceptible to tumor growth.
Naked mole rats
stay underground all their lives, finding roots by tunnelling hundreds of metres from their breeding chambers.
KEEPERS caught up with our fascinating naked mole rats
to give them health checks and new names.
Because of my research into the molecular mechanisms of aging and cancer, I maintain the second largest colony of naked mole rats
in the world.
Their research found that a specific gene-p16-makes the cancerous cells in naked mole rats
hypersensitive to overcrowding, and stops them from proliferating when too many crowd together.
Aging researchers, for example, recently zeroed in on the brain protein Neuregulin 1, or NRG-1, finding that naked mole rats
had the most plentiful and persistent supply of it among all the rodent species they studied.
When life gives naked mole rats
lemons, the wrinkled, bucktoothed rodents probably don't care.